When we think of iconic German culture, dress and characteristics, it is the Bavarian identity and attributes of its state capital, Munich, which we are often conjuring in our mind. Munich has long been the main city of Southern Germany. It has become a financial, IT, biotech, design, publishing and manufacturing powerhouse. Munich is the global headquarters for Siemens, BMW and Allianz. And of course as the home to the renowned, Oktoberfest, it comes as no surprise that Munich is home to six of the world’s best breweries.
Munich does cool. It also does quality, fun and style. The German reputation for excellence and attention to detail pervades even the smallest aspects of this vibrant uber-modern city. Munich is a fantastic place to visit all year round, not just in September. Beyond the two weeks in September, the Hofbrauhaus hosts visitors all year round for spectacular ales and hearty meals in a bustling atmosphere.
Discover Munich – Bavaria’s capital city
Development has been kept low-rise, so the city of Munich retains a human scale and is very pedestrian and cyclist friendly. In the heart of the city, you can climb the spire of St Peter’s church which offers a vantage point for an exquisite view of Munich – which was rebuilt after World War 2. There are a range of tours available from Munich including the somber experience of visiting the nearby Dachau Memorial Concentration Camp through to enjoyable daytrips to visit fairytale castles such as Neuschwanstein in the German Alps.
History abounds in Munich and it is readily accessible. The city hall has neogothic architecture and at 11 and 12 o’clock every day the glockenspiel sounds ring out across the city. Munich blends its strong sense of the traditional with convenience of the contemporary..
Munich - Centre of Culture, Sport and the Arts
Munich has many museums and stunning galleries. The BMW Weld and BMW Museum showcase manufacturing and design evolution that will interest car fans as well as most visitors and are a real departure from conventional museums. Similarly the Deutsches Museum is all about science and technology. The city still has Gothic and Baroque architecture including the not to be missed Marienplatz and Assam’s Church. The three State Art Galleries (the Pinakotheken) and the area close to the Siegestor (Victory Arch) are all within easy walking distance.
The most successful German soccer club, Bayern Munich, play their Bundesliga home games at Allianz Arena. This stadium is famous for its distinctive, futuristic 21st century style and full colour changing exterior.
Two great websites for detailed itinerary planning are https://www.tripadvisor.com.au and http://www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html - the official city tourism website.
Dining & Shopping
Shopping in Munich covers the full spectrum of department stores, arcades, markets and boutiques. The four main shopping areas are: Munich City Centre, Schabing, Maxorstadt and Glockenbachviertel.
Munich Konditorie’s (patisseries) make exceptional Blackforest torte and baked goods including pretzels and pies using the outstanding, locally sourced produce that makes Munich a food paradise. Weisswurst, literally “white sausage”, traditionally a morning food, is a Munich specialty that is well worth sampling. Local savoury delicacies include schnitzel, Spaetzle (sort of a chewy dumpling) and Schwienhaxe (roast pork knuckle) with sauerkraut.
Munich hospitality usually includes a 15% service fee, however it is expected that patrons will tip 10% for the food/beverage servers. Also, reservations for restaurants are advised as many locations can become busy. To keep things running smoothly, punctuality is expected for any reservation.
Beer, Lederhosen/Dirndl and cuckoo clocks.
The Hofbrauhaus experience is obligatory for any Munich visitor and it can at times feel a little bit like a theme park; however, it is a place of pure fun and Gemütlichkeit! (loosely translated: a place of warmth, friendliness and good cheer). The breweries and bars of Munich have a sense of inclusion that embraces newcomers.
Lederhosen for men and Dirndl for women are the traditional Bavarian folk clothing that come out for Oktoberfest and many other occasions. They make a great souvenir and are fun to wear; slightly ridiculous at first, sure, but there is safety in numbers!
The black forest produces cuckoo clocks which may appeal. Some clocks can be customised to include family names and crests. The quality and price varies dramatically, and quality locally made clocks tend to start from around 400 Euros. More affordable souvenirs are the beer steins and goblets for sale throughout Munich.
Munich Christmas Markets
Commencing on 25 November each year, Munich hosts the Christmas Markets in the city heart (Marienplatz) and at twenty other locations throughout the city. These markets are comprised of handmade Christmas decorations and items such as gingerbread treats, candles, lights, wood carvings and glassware. Rug up and savour the mulled wine and delicious warm treats because Munich has spectacular white winters
Munich as a Ski-base
Munich has ready access to the German Alps that form a distant frame around the city. The highest peak, Zugspitze (2,100m), is 90km from Munich and is the centrepiece of Garmisch-Partenkirchen's ski area. In combination with Alpspitze, it boasts over 60km of pistes. Zugspitze is on a glacier and is usually skiable from November to May. You can either drive or go by train from the centre of Munich right into the ski fields (most resorts will have a short shuttlebus ride from the train).
Munich in the Warmer Months
The Bavarian rulers chose to spend summer in Munich and built the Nymphenburg Palace as a residence. The Englicher Garden in central Munich is larger than Central Park in New York. In summer, you’ll encounter the unexpected sight of people carrying surf boards through the Englischer Garden where they ride the currents on the river Eisbach - seriously impressive! Also impressive, is the Chinese Tower garden which can hold 7,000 people. It is the opposite of a BYO restaurant, as long as you purchase beer there you can bring your own food!
Munich’s reputation for public transport is every bit as punctual and reliable as you would expect. For visitors, three day public transport passes and route selection advice is available at http://www.mvv-muenchen.de/en/tickets-fares/tickets/day-tickets/citytourcard/
A hire car in Munich is an option however public transport, walking and cycling are better options for the inner city. Driving on the autobahn is an experience that many drivers look forward to as part of their German visit. So if you enjoy driving, then hiring a high performance car like a Porsche or BMW from Munich is a great idea.
Please drive safely!
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